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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

A leap forward for SpaceX as its third test flight to space goes almost perfectly

SpaceX made significant strides with its third Starship Super-Heavy rocket test flight, which unfolded smoothly for the most part.

The test window kicked off at 0700 CT on March 14, with liftoff delayed briefly to clear boats from the range. At exactly 0825 CT, the 33 Raptor engines roared to life, propelling the Starship stack skyward.

Initially, everything seemed on track. Staging proceeded as planned, and the booster began its descent back to Earth. However, a hiccup occurred during landing, with control loss and incomplete engine reignition leading to a crash into the Gulf of Mexico.

Nevertheless, the Starship's second stage reached near-orbit and executed re-entry, showcasing payload door operations and propellant transfer. Observers noted some venting from the Starship.

SpaceX chose to forgo a planned Raptor restart but did not disclose the reasons. The vehicle proceeded with re-entry.

Some stunning imagery was captured, but telemetry ceased at 65km altitude. SpaceX has not released any information on the final fate of the ship except that it was lost.

The launch received FAA approval a day prior, with some new provisions including modifications to the rocket's trajectory. SpaceX had requested permission to extend its operational area to include the Indian Ocean saying it would allow them to attempt new techniques like in-space engine burns while maximising public safety.

The Space company has faced setbacks with previous Starship launches and although the third was also a bust it’s still a big step forward.

Moreover, the company can continue with design development and adjustment undeterred after the FAA closed the investigation into the problems that occurred during the second launch.

Looking ahead, Musk expressed hope for "at least six more flights this year," crucial for meeting NASA's lunar mission timeline.

With NASA counting on SpaceX for crew delivery to the Moon by 2026, rapid iteration and success are imperative.


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